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When explorer John Oxley passed through the land that would become Forbes he dismissed it for its poor soil quality and arid conditions which made it an innappropriate choice for agriculture and livestock farms, yet despite his concerns squatters were said to have moved into the region in the 1830s. It would be the discovery of payable gold in Forbes in 1861 that would transform the area from a sparsely populated farming community to a thriving gold rush town.
Originally known as Black Ridge, this land west of the Great Dividing Range had settlers flocking to the area in the decade following the first discovery of gold. With the establishment of a post office in the region in the 1870s, a name would need to be determined for the town and Black Ridge was replaced in favour of Forbes honouring Sir Francis Forbes, the Chief Justice of New South Wales at the time. Notorious bushrangers Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner worked the roads surrounding Forbes in the 1860s with Ben Hall eventually shot just outside the town in 1865 and subsequently buried in Forbes Cemetery. The legacy of Forbes' goldmining heritage can be found today in the underground tunnels which connect the town’s banks with the Albion Hotel to minimise the opportunities for theft when loading the Cob and Co coaches at the time.
Located on the banks of the Lachlan River with the Lachlan River at its centre, agricultural pursuits would survive the gold rush years and today account for the majority of industry in the town. The historic houses and architecture of the buildings in the main street stand as a charming reminder of the town’s prosperous history, attracting visitors to the town year round.